By Jim Umhoefer
Hennepin, Dakota, Carver, Scott, Sibley and Le Sueur counties. About 75 miles, between Fort Snelling and Le Sueur.
The big reason that people are "discovering" the lower Minnesota River Valley is the network of national, state and local recreation lands that extends up the valley from Fort Snelling State Park to the city of Le Sueur. The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, a 34-mile urban greenbelt from Fort Snelling to Jordan, and the Minnesota Valley State Trail form the bulk of this complex.
The Minnesota Valley Trail, when completed, will link a series of national wildlife refuge units, local recreation areas, and state park units stretched along 75 miles of the lower Minnesota River. Only the portion of the trail system from Belle Plaine to Chaska and Shakopee (20 miles) is currently completed. Eventually 24,000 acres of flood-plain marsh, grassland and woodland will be included within the refuge, recreation area and state trail. Read more: